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The Versatility of Ryan Gosling

Bel pens a love letter to THE man: Ryan Gosling.

Ryan Gosling: the man of my dreams, the snubbed Academy Award nominee, the man of all talents, the outfit repeater and the guy who tap dances all the way into my heart.

I could go on for hours, really, but the main reason I wanted to write this piece for the people out there who don’t give much of their attention to Ryan (I am mad at you, but I understand and I am here to change that). I was once watching some film critics on a TV show discussing La La Land, when one very brave woman stated that “Ryan Gosling isn’t a very versatile actor”, in which I switched the TV off, proceeded to scream and wanted to find her address so I could educate her. I hope she’s reading this now. This is mainly for her.

Let’s start with:

He Builds Houses

The Notebook (2004) – source: Plantation Shutters

When Allie (Rachel McAdams) and Noah (Ryan Gosling) spend a romantic whirlwind of a summer in an abandoned, run down house in the film The Notebook, Noah tells Allie how he plans on doing the house up. This is the moment where Allie explains the interior she would pick and how she would like it all to look, including the whole house being painted white with blue shutters and a room where she can paint. There’s so much more plot in the middle but cut to the point where he spends chunks of his days building her dream house for her because he loves her, where do I find a man like that?

In all seriousness though, his role was super cheesy and slushy but you have to expect that from a romantic book to movie adaptation, so I’m not complaining. It’s hard re-watching Ryan in this particular role because in his more recent work he is far from an emotional heartthrob who dedicates his whole life to a woman, but that’s why I love him so much as an actor.

He Teaches

Half Nelson (2006) – source: IMDb

Half Nelson, the film that showcases Ryan’s true talent in acting, where he plays a tired, lonesome, drug addicted teacher named Dan. Raw and hard hitting, this plays out to be quite the emotional film.

He plays the most laid-back history teacher, situated in Brooklyn, where the population of the school is mainly Black and Hispanic students. Dan uses the same lingo and has identical characteristics as the children he teaches, but he makes a special friendship with one girl in particular. They form a strong bond, in which she encourages him to overcome his addiction and he tries to stop her from following in her brothers’ footsteps in dealing drugs.

He doesn’t play your typical heartthrob, simply because he treats women badly in this particular role. The only thing he seems to be good at is having control of his classroom, where he looks and feels his happiest, apart from the fact that he goes and snorts a line in the men’s bathroom on his breaks. I view this as a hidden gem in Ryan’s filmography because you get to see a complex but real character who others might relate to or know somebody similar, and that’s where it hits home for viewers.

He Finds Comfort In Strange Ways

Lars and the Real Girl (2007) – source: IMDb

When I find myself revisiting the film Lars and the Real Girl, it makes me already tear up before I start to hit play. There’s something rare in this indie film that I wish we had in more films at the moment instead of more Fast and Furious spin offs, for example.

Lars, an extremely shy individual, lives right next to his brother and sister-in-law Karen (Emily Mortimer). She constantly attempts to invite him over to try and make him more confident and social, but very rarely does he take up the offer. We then see in a few scenes later that Lars has quite the large package arrive to his house and he’s already so giddy. He proceeds to explain to Karen and his brother that he has met a woman via the internet and her name is Bianca. Obviously, they are over the moon for Lars because he’s showing a side of his personality they have never seen before. However, that all seems to change once they realize Bianca is, in fact, a life-sized Doll.

I’m not going to ramble on and spoil it for you, but the main focus in this film is mental health. It’s clear, but not shouted about in your face. There’s moments that you simply can’t watch due to embarrassment, where I’m scrunching my face feeling so sorry for Lars, who has built an entire romantic relationship with a doll who he goes to a busy party with and introduces her to everyone. You can imagine the reactions he got.

I also find myself crying towards the end, it’s really what makes this film special. Lars has some difficulties with Bianca, thinking that she is becoming ill and the word starts to spread around town. At this point, the whole community comes to terms with Lars illness and are there for him with support and a loving atmosphere. Having gone through so much trouble with Bianca throughout the months, Lars finally accepts that he has to take these adult responsibilities in the real world. He asks Karen if she would like to take a walk, and that’s where the film ends. It actually ends with me ugly crying.

I adored this side of Ryan’s acting and if I ever met him (one day), I would applaud him, bow in his honor and praise him repeatedly for this role. His tiny facial expressions, his nervous characteristics, the way he shows he’s hurting inside but so softly done, effortless.

He Can Master The Dirty Dancing Life

Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011) – source: IMDb

Crazy, Stupid, Love. An absolute comedy classic. I think this is where a lot of people declared their love for Gosling, as they should! He’s naturally this witty so I don’t imagine this role was hard for him, but his smooth talking persona had us all weak.

It just goes to show, this man can really do any genre of film you throw at him – he will accept and so will I. Comedy is his strong point, which leads me to another film of his I re-watch too much, The Nice Guys (2016).

The Nice Guys (2016) – source: IMDb

The messy detective Ryan plays is one of his best roles yet, even though this isn’t talked about as much as I want it to be. Set in late 1970’s in Los Angeles (hence the mustache), Holland March (Ryan Gosling) teams up with Jackson Healy (Russel Crowe) to help find a missing girl. Ryan kills me with his one liners and high pitched screams, it truly is peak cinema. I’m making myself want to stop writing this and re-watch it immediately.

He Drives

Drive (2011) – source: IMDb

In 2011, Ryan Gosling became a getaway driver in the thrilling, neon-lit, Nicolas Winding Refn hit Drive. On the side of being a stuntman and a mechanic, he gives criminals a five minute window. Anything that happens in that five minutes and he’s yours, anything that happens a minute out of that and you’re on your own. Oh, one more thing, you won’t be able to reach him on his phone again, sorry couldn’t resist, simply too iconic. I live for good thrillers and this one doesn’t disappoint. Ryan uses his dead facial expressions to create a cold persona when he’s around criminals, but all that suddenly changes when he’s with his neighbor. It’s like he melts and turns awkward, which is so far from his what his job expects from him.

This is the film that made me see how versatile he is and you can tell he digests the whole character he plays. I don’t think he’s as far as a method actor, but I don’t know how he does it all so effortlessly.

He Likes Jazz

Here is where he truly shows off his talents, and so he should after dedicating months of his life learning the piano and tap dancing. Fun fact: after watching La La Land, me and my mum bought some tap shoes off Amazon (other shops available) and went to our first tap lesson, but we ended up leaving it after just the one lesson.

La La Land (2016) – source: IMDb

Seeing this in the cinema four times proved to me that I am a La La Land warrior first and a human second. I live and breathe this film, the soundtrack, the insanely put together dance routines, Mia Dolan’s apartment and all the primary colored outfits. Pure cinematic magic. There’s not a day that goes by where I remember Ryan Gosling lost his Oscar to Casey Affleck, even though I was a huge fan of Manchester By The Sea, it hurt tremendously to see him not rightfully take the Academy Award.

Fight me, I’m right.

For me this has been too easy to write about because he is my ultimate favorite actor and is the coolest human. He has many more incredible roles/films that I could have mentioned such as The Place Beyond The Pines, Blue Valentine, The Big Short and Blade Runner 2049. I hope this makes you want to watch some of Ryan’s more unknown films and you find a new one that you love.

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2 comments on “The Versatility of Ryan Gosling

  1. Nestor Vidal

    YAS BEL! LOVE YOU.

    Liked by 1 person

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